Pipe band festival ready, new venue

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Ashburton Pipe Band members in action during a past street march along Elizabeth Street. Photo File
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The Ashburton Pipe Band is preparing to host its annual Festival of Pipe Band Music on Sunday.

And, after more than 40 years, it is being held in a new venue, inside the domain, and run without the street march.

Band secretary Simon Wallis said compliance – namely the manpower needed to hold the street march, was the main reason for the change, but the new venue would create a nice setting.

‘‘So it’s a change of venue but still in the domain, in a different part,’’ he said.

It will be held on the Royal Lawn (near the water wheel), in the Ashburton Domain grounds on Sunday, February 12, from 1pm.

Mr Wallis said five pipe bands from across Canterbury would compete as preparation for the national competition next month.

Members of the public were welcome to attend, bring a chair and enjoy the music.

The Ashburton Pipe Band, of around 22 members with a dozen playing, are looking to improve on their second place last year competing at South Canterbury against some of the same bands.

They will be joined in Ashburton by two pipe bands from Christchurch and one each from North, and South Canterbury.

In the past the festival would start with a street parade along Elizabeth Street, and continue inside the domain grounds with competition events. However this year, the bands would march within the lawn site.

‘‘It’s to blow the cobwebs out, get the season started in the lead up to the nationals,’’ he said.

‘‘It is a competition, there is going to be judging starting off with a march in the domain.’’

The bands will be judged on their piping and drumming musical ability.

They will play march tunes and play a set involving a march, strathspey and three tunes, and a medley with as many tunes as the band likes lasting around five minutes.

Mr Wallis said the festival was the second-to-last chance to have a public outing ahead of the nationals.

The band will head to the provincial competition in Dunedin next weekend.

The nationals, with around 50 pipe bands, will be held at Hagley Park, in Christchurch, on March 10 and 11.